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Directors Guild of America

Coordinates: 34°5′52″N 118°21′45″W / 34.09778°N 118.36250°W / 34.09778; -118.36250
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Directors Guild of America
PredecessorRadio and Television Directors Guild
Founded1936; 88 years ago (1936)
Headquarters7920 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, California
  • United States
Lesli Linka Glatter
National Vice President
Mary Ray Thewlis
Key people
Paris Barclay, secretary-treasurer
Formerly called
Screen Directors Guild (1936–1960)

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is an entertainment guild that represents the interests of film and television directors in the United States motion picture industry and abroad. Founded as the Screen Directors Guild in 1936, the group merged with the Radio and Television Directors Guild in 1960 to become the modern Directors Guild of America.[3]


Total membership (US records)[4]

Finances (US records; ×$1000)[4]
     Assets      Liabilities      Receipts      Disbursements

As a union that seeks to organize an individual profession, rather than multiple professions across an industry, the DGA is a craft union. It represents directors and members of the directorial team (assistant directors, unit production managers, stage managers, associate directors, production associates, and location managers (in New York and Chicago[citation needed])); that representation includes all sorts of media, such as film, television, documentaries, news, sports, commercials and new media.[citation needed]

The guild has various training programs whereby successful applicants are placed in various productions and can gain experience working in the film or television industry.

As of 2020, the guild had more than 18,000 members.[1] The DGA headquarters are on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, with satellite offices in New York and Chicago and coordinating committees in San Francisco, Chicago, and London.


According to DGA's Department of Labor records, the guild's reported membership classifications currently account for 1,532 "retirees" (about 10% of total membership), 323 "suspended" members (2%), and 5 "life" members (<1%), compared to 13,577 "active" members. "Suspended" members pay dues but are ineligible to vote in the union. DGA contracts also cover some non-members, known as agency fee payers. These non-members currently number 172, or about 1% of the size of the union's membership.[5]


The DGA site lists the following for membership:[6]

Upon the DGA's receipt of a deal memo or commercial project listing form ("CPLF") from a DGA signatory Employer which confirms your bona fide employment in a DGA-covered category, you will be sent an application for membership which will include your required initiation fee and other information. The DGA does not provide applications for membership upon request. Your membership in the DGA is subject to approval by your category Council. Applications for membership are submitted to the appropriate Council upon submission of a completed application form and payment of the requisite initiation fee. The DGA membership application form requires endorsements from three members within your application category, your resume and brief biography, your home address and other contact information. Your application must be notarized.

— Joining the DGA

Membership categories are:[6]

  • Director: Feature/Television
  • Director: Commercial, Documentary, Low Budget Feature, Staff, Segment
  • Unit Production Manager
  • 1st Assistant Director
  • 2nd Assistant Director
  • AD/UPM Low Budget
  • Associate Director
  • Stage Manager
  • AD/SM Low Budget
  • Production Associate (West)
  • Program Production Assistant (East)

Membership initiation fees in 2022 ranged from $200 for a Production Associate to $13,416 for a feature director.[6]

The DGA site listed the following for dues in 2022:[7]

DGA membership dues are basic dues of $50 per quarter and income dues based on gross earnings working in all DGA categories. Gross income includes but is not limited to base salary, overtime, residuals, deferments, percentage compensation, completion of assignment, vacation and holiday pay, profit participation and fees of all kinds in any Guild category. DGA members must report all gross earnings from Guild-covered employment and pay the corollary percentage dues quarterly. Dues on gross earnings are calculated at one and one-half percent (1+12 %) of a member's reported gross earnings from employment in all Guild categories, provided that such dues are payable only on gross annual income between $10,000 and $300,000. In addition to basic and percentage dues, members also pay an additional one percent (1%) of the total residuals they receive in connection with employment under a DGA collective bargaining agreement

— DGA Dues

Labor agreements[edit]

The agreements signed between the guild and film and television production companies make various stipulations covering pay and working conditions for guild members and require that all those employed in the relevant fields on a film made by that company are guild members. Guild members are generally prevented from working for companies that have not signed an agreement with the DGA. This sometimes leads production companies that have no such agreement to form new companies, purely for the purpose of making a particular film, which do then sign an agreement with the DGA.[citation needed]

The Guild enters into negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the organization that represents the studios, networks and production companies, approximately every three years to update and renew the Basic Agreement[8] and the Freelance Live and Tape Television Agreement,[9] the DGA's two major agreements. The DGA negotiates minimum compensation levels that must be paid by the companies. Many DGA members have agents who may negotiate rates above the minimums for their clients. The DGA agreements also secure residual payments for the reuse of members' work in film, television and new media.

Other than wages and basic working conditions, the DGA has a particular role in protecting the creative rights of film and TV directors. Such protections that the guild provides include defining the director's role, ensuring, with examples, the principle of "one director to a picture" and the right to prepare a director's cut or edit.[citation needed] Generally, each of these protections is to help offset the power that producers can have over a director during the film-making process.

DGA Awards[edit]

The DGA hosts the annual DGA Awards, an important precursor to the Academy Awards.[10] In its 69-year history, the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film has been a near perfect barometer for both the Best Director, and in some cases, the Best Picture Academy Award. Only seven times has the DGA Award winner not won the corresponding Best Director Academy Award.[11] Honorees are awarded with a statue manufactured by Society Awards.


The rule that a film can only have one single director was adopted to preserve the continuity of a director's vision and to avoid producers and actors lobbying for a director's credit, or studios hiring multiple directors for a single film or television episode.

The rule is waived only for directorial teams recognized by the DGA who have a history of working together and sharing a common vision. Examples include The Wachowskis, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Hughes brothers, Russo Brothers, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and the Coen brothers.[12] The Coens for years divided credit, with Ethan taking producing credit, Joel taking directing credit, and both of them sharing the writing credit (even though the two of them shared all three duties between themselves) until The Ladykillers in 2004.

An example of the DGA refusing to recognize a directorial team was Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller for Sin City; they were rejected because they had never worked together before; Rodriguez quit the DGA so that Miller would share director's credit.[12]

For the film Bohemian Rhapsody, director Bryan Singer was fired due to frequent absences and clashing on the set, with Dexter Fletcher replacing him with two weeks left of filming. Singer still received director credit and Fletcher received executive producer credit.

In the past, the DGA has also engaged in disputes with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) over possessory credits, first used in the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation. The WGA tried to limit possessory credits to writers, but has always been successfully opposed by the DGA, leaving directors free to try to negotiate such credits if they wish.[13]

Non-member directors[edit]

Not all Hollywood directors are DGA members. Notable exceptions include George Lucas and Robert Rodriguez.[12] Quentin Tarantino directed six feature films before becoming a DGA member, in 2012.[14] Those who are not members of the guild are unable to direct for the larger movie studios, which are signatories to the guild's agreements that all directors must be guild members.[12]


Directors Guild of America building on Sunset Boulevard.
DGA building, Midtown Manhattan

The following are the past Presidents of the Screen Directors Guild and the DGA:[citation needed]

DGA Director's Finder Series[edit]

The Director's Finder Series (or Director's Finder Screening Series), inaugurated in December 1998, provides for the screening of independent films with no U.S. distributor, and no previous TV or other distribution. Selected by a lottery, the films are screened in DGA theatres in Los Angeles and New York City to an audience of DGA members and invited potential distributors. Many films have been picked up by distributors via the series that may not otherwise have been spotted.[18] The series was initiated by the DGA's Independent Directors' Committee, chaired by Steven Soderbergh, initially for U.S. films only, but later expanded to include Australian, Irish, British and New Zealand directors, via the International Association of English-Speaking Directors Organisation (IAESDO). By 2007, the series had screened more than 75 films.[19] The DGA has collaborated with organisations such as the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland (SDGI)[20] and the Australian Directors' Guild (ADG), which nominate one film to participate.[19]

Australian entries, selected for the Finders Series Award by the ADG from a shortlist of four,[19] include Boxing Day (2007), directed by Kriv Stenders; and after a five-year lapse,[21] Tony Krawitz's documentary The Tall Man (2012),[22] and in 2014 Catriona McKenzie's Satellite Boy was selected for the series.[23]

Irish entries include Terry McMahon's Patrick's Day (2014)[24] and Ross Whitaker's Katie (2018).[25]

Directors Guild Foundation[edit]

Directors Guild Foundation, founded in 1945, as Directors Guild of America Educational and Benevolent Foundation publishes the Directors Guild of America Oral History series,[26] and provides an interest-free loan program, a Cognitive Wellness Program, and flu shot clinics.[27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Directors Guild of America". About. Archived from the original on August 3, 2023. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  2. ^ Robb, David (September 18, 2021). "Lesli Linka Glatter Elected DGA President; Second Woman To Hold Post". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on September 19, 2021. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  3. ^ Dawes, Amy (2011). "A More Perfect Union". DGA Quarterly. Archived from the original on August 14, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  4. ^ a b US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-018. (Search)
  5. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-018. Report submitted March 27, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "The Guild / Departments". Archived from the original on January 29, 2022. Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  7. ^ "The Guild / Departments". Archived from the original on January 29, 2022. Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  8. ^ "DGA Basic Agreement". DGA Website. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  9. ^ "DGA Freelance Live and Tape Television Agreement". DGA Website. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  10. ^ King, Susan (January 9, 2012). "Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese receive nominations for DGA Award". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2023. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  11. ^ Feinberg, Scott (January 29, 2012). "With DGA Win, 'The Artist' and Its Artist Look Virtually Unstoppable at Oscars (Analysis)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 4, 2023. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c d Engber, Daniel (April 8, 2005). "Why Not Quit the Directors Guild? What Robert Rodriguez can and can't do". Slate. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  13. ^ Directors Guild of America Magazine, Possessory Credit Timeline Archived August 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, 28(6), February 2004
  14. ^ "Membership Report - West Coast Additions" Archived March 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine DGA Monthly Magazine, January 2012
  15. ^ Matthew, Jacobs (June 26, 2013). "Directors Guild Of America Elects Paris Barclay First Black, Openly Gay President". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  16. ^ "Thomas Schlamme Elected Directors Guild President – Complete Election Results". Deadline. June 24, 2017. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  17. ^ Littleton, Cynthia; Maddaus, Gene (September 18, 2021). "Lesli Linka Glatter Elected President of Directors Guild of America". Variety. Archived from the original on September 20, 2021. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  18. ^ "DGA Independent Filmmakers Brochure". DGA. Archived from the original on June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021. PDF Archived June 7, 2021, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ a b c "Peter Garrett To Attend Directors Guild Awards". Australian Stage Online. October 11, 2007. Archived from the original on June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  20. ^ "SDGI Announces KATIE as Winner for Finders Series 2018". SDGI. 2018. Archived from the original on June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  21. ^ "ADG announces the Directors' [sic] Guild of America Finders Award 2012". IF Magazine. February 27, 2012. Archived from the original on June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  22. ^ "Film-maker Tony Krawitz heads to US as part of Directors' [sic] Guild of America's Finders Series". Mumbrella. October 17, 2012. Archived from the original on June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  23. ^ "Catriona McKenzie". Sydney, City of Film (Screen NSW). New South Wales Government. December 31, 2019. Archived from the original on September 27, 2022. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  24. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (August 26, 2014). "Patrick's Day wins Screen Directors Guild Finders Series Award". Cineuropa. Archived from the original on June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  25. ^ "Ross Whitaker's Katie named Screen Directors Guild Finders Series Award-winner for 2018". Scannain. October 18, 2018. Archived from the original on October 19, 2022. Retrieved October 17, 2022.
  26. ^ Jacobson, Arthur; Atkins, Irene Kahn (1991). Arthur Jacobson: Interviewed by Irene Kahn Atkin. Directors Guild of America Oral History. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press and Directors Guild of America. ISBN 978-0-8108-2468-3. OCLC 925733552. Archived from the original on May 6, 2024. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  27. ^ "DGA Foundation". Directors Guild of America. Archived from the original on April 14, 2022. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  28. ^ "The Directors Guild Foundation Annual Campaign — Assisting Members in Need for Seven Decades -". Directors Guild of America. Archived from the original on July 6, 2022. Retrieved March 30, 2022.

External links[edit]

34°5′52″N 118°21′45″W / 34.09778°N 118.36250°W / 34.09778; -118.36250